As a small department dedicated almost exclusively to undergraduate education, the English Department places a great deal of emphasis on its teaching responsibilities. An open-door policy and personal attention to student problems are guiding principles for all members of the Department in their efforts to perform their jobs effectively. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, however, RMC English professors are also active scholars, researching, publishing, and delivering conference papers in a wide range of literary fields.
Since its establishment, the Department has counted among its numbers scholars with respected national and international reputations. The research activities of the professors keep them in touch with current developments in their field of interest and contribute to the vitality of their teaching. Like their students, they are actively involved in learning and sharing their enthusiasms. But in addition to these human resources within the Department, the literature holdings in the Massey Library offer a respectable collection of texts and critical studies suited to undergraduate educational requirements. Efforts to improve and expand the collection continue yearly, and students should not overlook the resources of Queen's Stauffer Library that are readily available to cadets.
The bulk of the collection in the Massey Library is in the open stacks in the basement area of the building, but there are also two important "Special Collections" of a literary nature held in the rare books section of the library. The first of these is the "R.E. Watters Memorial Collection" of early first editions of Canadian literature publications. The second is the "Canadian War Literature Collection" consisting of creative literature relating to Canadian military experience. Both collections have been developed under the auspices of the English Department.
Finally, the "W.S. Avis Memorial Lecture Series" represents a unique resource within the Department. In memory of the late Walter S. Avis, family and friends established a small fund in order to facilitate efforts at bringing visiting speakers to the Department. Sometimes these speakers are scholars who are noted specialists in their field; sometimes they are novelists, poets, or journalists reading from and discussing their latest publications. Perhaps the best known person to visit in recent years was the novelist and poet Margaret Atwood. The intention of the series is to provide a special educational experience that is outside of but complementary to the more formal structure of classroom learning.
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